Vaccinations up to date?
Are you up to date? No, I dont mean if your wardrobe is as fashionable as your teenagers. I dont mean if your house has the latest multimedia room and home theater. I dont mean whether you are driving a late-model car. I dont even mean if you have read each page of this latest Vail Daily! What I am referring to is whether your immunizations are as current as they should be.Dear Doc: My son is getting ready to go off to college. Ive heard something about a meningitis shot. Should he get this? Keeping Up to Date in VailDear Up to Date: Medicine has improved the lives of virtually each person living. That is a remarkable claim. The greatest accomplishments of medicine, however, are not MRIs, CAT scans or arthroscopic surgery. Rather, medicine has given us the idea of infectious disease and the drugs to fight it, the concept of prevention and the importance of staying healthy and, perhaps the most important thing of all, immunizations. That is not to take away anything from the importance of what medicine has given us, but nothing has improved the health of so many across the world as those three things.In the U.S., immunizations seem easy. After all, our schools require what we should do, right? Actually, not really. Certainly, required school immunizations are important for our children. But there are other vaccines, such as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for infants, which is recommended but not yet required. Perhaps more important are those vaccines given during the teenage and adult years that are easily forgotten or missed. When was your last tetanus shot?As you have probably heard, there have been new cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, throughout the U.S., including in Colorado and even here in our county. While it has been known that outbreaks of pertussis occur in those who have not been immunized, it also is believed that over time childhood immunizations may have diminished effectiveness in certain people. Because of that, recent guidelines recommend that children receive a pertussis booster in combination with tetanus at 11 or 12 years old. That vaccine is called Tdap. If your tween or teen has not received his or her Tdap yet, it can be administered to people up to 18 years old. Finally, if they received the older Td or plain tetanus vaccine, Tdap can be given not sooner than one year after their last tetanus booster to strengthen their pertussis immunity. If you have not had your tetanus shot in a while (think 10 years for routine immunizations or five years if you have a bite, puncture wound or cut that needs stitches), you should have a Tdap vaccine, as well. If you have an infant younger than 12 months old at home, and it has been at least two years since your last tetanus shot, you should receive Tdap to protect your little one and yourself against pertussis.The meningitis vaccine is also recommended to be given with the 11- or 12-year-old Tdap. It protects against the most serious and deadly form of meningitis. Previously it was recommended to college students living in dormitories. As with Tdap, teens can receive the vaccine any time if they did not receive it when they were 11 or 12. If you are not sure if you or your family is up to date, ask your doctor or check in with our excellent Eagle County Department of Health and Human Services at 328-8840. Its vaccine clinics are every Tuesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. at 551 Broadway in Eagle.Vail, Colorado
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